The Benny Award
The Benny Award is the highest honour that can be awarded to a New Zealand variety performer.
Each year the VAC presents the Benny Award to an entertainer who has achieved a lifetime of excellence in their field of the performing arts. Nominations are accepted from club members and the recipient ultimately decided by past recipients.
The Benny Award is named after legendary New Zealand variety performer Edgar Benyon (1902-1978) who toured the world with with magic, ventriloquism, juggling, rag pictures, quick-change, contortions and impressions. The original trophy was sculpted by Grand Master of Magic Jon Zealando and first awarded in 1969.
Past recipients include many household names and figureheads of entertainment in this country. The Benny Award truly is the supreme award of excellence for the New Zealand variety entertainment industry.
2012 Benny Award Recipient : Marian Burns
Born and raised in Auckland, Marian Burns is internationally recognised for her charismatic fiddle-playing. She started playing the violin when she was six years old and played in many orchestras throughout 1977-1992.
Since discovering country fiddling, Marian has enjoyed touring New Zealand and working with amazing artists—Eddie Low, Gray Bartlett, Brendan Dugan, John Grenelle, Dennis Marsh, Kevin Greaves,
Chet O’Connell, Chris Powley, Michael Fix and Tami Neilson to name just a few. Three
Spring Fever Road Show tours with promoter Ben McDonald and two national tours with Operatunity have widened her audience and taken her over the length of the country.
Marian has been well-received on stage at the New Zealand Gold Guitar Festivals in Gore, the Caroline Bay Festivals in Timaru, the Norfolk Island/Bay of Islands Country Music Festivals, and she is also a
well-known name at Tamworth Country Music Festival in New South Wales, Australia.
In 2009 Marian had her first acting role in a New Zealand film—The China Cup. Her original music was also accepted for the soundtrack, and she says that playing fiddle on the big screen was an incredible experience.
Career highlights to date include opening for Ricky Skaggs and Dr. John in the Auckland Town Hall, playing with Chieftans in the Aotea Centre, and sharing a stage with The Topp Twins.
A qualified primary school teacher, Marian is the music specialist at Marina View School in Auckland, teaching Year One to Eight students. This is when she’s not conducting massed choirs of five hundred children, or teaching private pupils from home.
Awards and Qualifications :
2013 Australasian Fiddle Award and "Best CD by a Solo Fiddler" at the Golden Fiddle Awards, Tamworth Australia
2010 Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Fiddle Awards
2010 Nominated for Best Fiddle Album and Best Fiddle Teacher at the Golden Fiddle Awards
2009 The Agnew Excellence Award - Variety Artists Club of NZ
2009 Top Musician Award – Variety Artists Club of NZ
2009 Kiwi Pro Am – NCMA – Awarded Top Female Country Artist of the Year
2004 Scroll of Honour from the Variety Artists Club of NZ
2000 Winner in the 'Sing a Song’ competition - TVNZ’s Maggie’s Garden Show
1997 Winner of the Viewer’s Choice Award - TVNZ’s Showcase
1993 NZ Country Music Entertainer of the Year
1993 Auckland Country Music Awards : Overall Winner, Senior Group Winner, Instrumentalist, Group Winner, Best Entertainer Award, and Overall
Runner-up with the Group
1986 Associate Trinity College of London – Violin
1986 Diploma of Teaching at Auckland College of Education
Click here for biographical information about the full list of Benny Award recipients or jump to a past Benny winner from the list below :
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